Introduction: Make Your Own Tarp Tents

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Use blue tarps to make tents.

Step 1: Materials Needed:

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Materials needed: blue tarps, poles: 2" by 2" lumber, bamboo, or saplings, string, stakes (1” by 2” by 18” sharpened lumber or samplings).

Step 2: Make a Modle:

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Look at the photos and make a paper model of the tent you want to make.

Use a rock and string to attach cords to your tarps or use Grip Clips:

For more details see:

Step 3: "String and Rock"

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Attach cord to your tarp by using the “string and rock” technique (this is were you gather part of your tarp around a rock about the size of a walnut and wrap a 2’ section string around were you have gathered and tie it. The extra string is used to tie to poles or stakes. Or use Grip Clips:

Step 4: Interior Pole Supports

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Where you want to place a pole inside your tarp tie a 5 layer pad made of a scrap section of your tarp to the top of your pole or use the Pro:

Step 5: Different Styes of Tents

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One of the great things about this type of tent is that you do not damage the materials you are using and can re-arrange them to make a different style of tent later.


camping crazy (author)2013-02-15

Wow I really like this one!!!

Houdinipeter (author)2011-06-26

Haha great fun! But a couple tips to add: Make sure that you prevent water from coming underneath the tarp and getting your space wet by diverting rainwater or something. Also if know that if you use a pole/stick to prop up your tarp there will be condensation if it rains. Ie not completely dry which is generally ideal for sleeping

tulekah (author)2010-10-04

tarp-life i well know and love but...anything but the BLUE (unless it's your favorite color)!

dmehling (author)2010-09-13

Here's one available to buy online, but it's gotta be easy to make as well:

it utilizes a 9x12 tarp for a single person shelter.

sthealthraider (author)2009-06-18

hellO!! the err stove/lamp doest it burn the friggin tarp??/ i need to know cuzz i wanna cook in mah tarp shelter

dcole64 (author)sthealthraider2009-12-05

Depends on distance from tarp and the temperature.  I'd certainly make sure there is PLENTY of ventilation and distance from the tarp.  If your shelter is enclosed, carbon monoxide is a definite danger!

ryanadanderson (author)2009-09-13

i think it's funny how it's in someone's back yard

gionwhorphin (author)2006-05-07

Does anyone know where to get mosquito netting? That's the missing item I'm looking for!

If you are going to go with mosquito netting I would step up to No seeum net which is a lot finer and better.

Matin (author)gionwhorphin2006-05-08

You can get netting from camping suppy stores, army surplus store and online I would imagin.

scafool (author)2008-12-18

I use these a lot. I suggest two more points. 1: It is important to have enough slope to the tarp with no place for it to bag and hold water if it rains. The weight of the water will stretch the fabric of a polytarp enough that it will start to leak. 2: Beware of the effect of the wind. A large tarp in strong wind is like a large sail. Your attachments have to be strong enough to resist fairly strong forces, or weak enough to let the tarp collapse without damaging anything. Also if it gets windy you should try to adjust the tarp so that it does not flap or vibrate in the wind. The wind shaking them a lot will open the weave and make them leaky too. You have some nice shapes posted for them. I like the shape in step 4 and the 1st and 2nd images in the introduction a lot. I tend to rig them more often as leantos with the bottom edge of the tarp at least a foot above the ground. That lets them shed rain easy and lets them spill some wind if they catch a gust.

gorilladrummer (author)2008-09-08

123 abc

ortho (author)2008-08-25

thats nice i like this one

static (author)2008-03-25

I had been contemplating duplicating commercial portable gazebo that had a grommet in the center of the tarp. I didn't like the idea, but after reading your instructable I'm thinking why not a ridge pole

bjurt (author)2007-11-25

Nice design. I like the scalloping of the roof to keep the tarp taut.

If you used a bjurt ( http://bjurt.com ), you could eliminate the guy wires. It would cost more and weigh more, but you could keep it out in any weather. (author)2006-05-06


EdsWastedLife (author)2006-05-04

Seattle Fabrics has a tarp-tent pattern that I've been thinking about buying. Requires a bit more sewing though.

Matin (author)EdsWastedLife2006-05-05

For this type of tarp tent consider using Light Fabric Grip Clips and join the inner tent together and to the outter fly by Joining Tarps: You can shape and join tarps together so that they are "shingled" for water tightness and shaped as you want. You can even join netting. If useing silicon coated nylon use a rubber ballon to add friction:

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